FEMA situation urgent but funding will be there, Rep. Roskam says

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Tax reform has to happen in 2017: Rep. Roskam

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) on concerns over FEMA funding and efforts to achieve tax reform.

Congress is expected to take prompt action on Wednesday to address dwindling FEMA funds as Hurricane Harvey relief efforts continue and Hurricane Irma barrels toward Puerto Rico and Florida.

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“There’s no question in my mind that the resources will be there,” Rep. Peter Roskam told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo of Mornings with Maria on Wednesday. “It’s a matter of timing and working these things out and I think most people, particularly members of Congress, recognize the urgency of this.”

Without Congressional mediation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will run out of money by Friday, according to a Bloomberg report. Only $541 million of the fund’s more than $1 billion was “immediately available” for relief efforts.

Lawmakers have also been debating whether to tie emergency aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey to a debt ceiling increase, two urgent pieces of legislation that must be passed in the immediate future. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has told lawmakers they must act to increase the nation’s borrowing authority by Sept. 29, or the government could run out of money to make key payments, including Social Security payouts.

While Republican Congressman Roger Williams of Texas issued a statement in opposition to joining these two items on Wednesday, Roskam said he would leave it to Congressional leadership to make that decision.

“My instinct is this that these are two terribly important things, whether they’re joined or not is an interesting sort of legislative parlor game,” he said. “But when it all comes down to it, they both have to be dealt with. So it’s really a tactical question that I’ll defer to the leadership on.”

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Another area where Roskam senses urgency and a need for clear direction from the White House and Congressional leadership is tax reform. According to the Illinois Republican, lawmakers will be unable to move forward with crafting legislation until the administration and GOP leaders set clear “parameters” as to what they want built into the bill, including where tax rates should land, whether the bill should be revenue neutral and whether there should be pay-fors.

The Big Six met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, where Trump said he is seeking not only tax reform, but tax cuts for both Americans and businesses. However, Roskam said the timeframe for passing tax reform is shrinking.

“There’s a sense of urgency now and the sense of urgency is we’ve got this collapsing window of time. This has to happen, in my opinion, in 2017. If it doesn’t happen in 2017, this will be the big fish that got away,” he said.

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